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|Age:||56||Cruise Line:||Royal Caribbean|
|Number of Cruises:||19||Cruise Ship:||Enchantment of the Seas|
|Overall Rating:||Date Sailed:||02/27/2012|
|Embarkation:||Baltimore, MD||Destination:||Caribbean - Eastern|
Enchantment of the Seas – Feb 27 – March 10, 2012
February 25, 2012 – Travel Day
Well, here I am at a restaurant in LAX waiting for brunch followed by a flight to Baltimore. Today is Saturday and the cruise leaves on Monday. So first let me give you a little basic information about myself. This is my 19th cruise overall, my 7th cruise with Royal Caribbean and my first cruise on a Vision class ship.
The prior cruise left on February 18, or at least it was supposed to leave on the 18th. It actually left the following day because of some engine problems. Supposedly the problem was fixed in Port Canaveral and we were advised that our cruise would go as planned. However, we have since learned that the engine is still not at fully repaired and that our last stop, Labadee, has been replaced by a day at sea so that the ship can cruise at a slower speed. However, we are staying an extra four to eight hours at three of the five stops plus we are getting a ship board credit (we don’t know the amount yet). I actually like this new itinerary better (not a lot better – but a little better). I do like Labadee, however, I’ve been there twice and not having to rush back to the ship at the other ports is a big plus (I do have the late dinner seating).
Now I just hope it does not rain in St. Maarten. The first time I was there I wanted to go to Orient Beach, but it was raining and I didn’t want to travel all the way across the island in the rain. The second time I was in St. Maarten I went to Maho Beach where the landing jets are just a few feet overhead. So, I have my sights set on Orient Beach again and this time I've got a lot of extra time.
Since there is a lot of interest in how the ship is doing I am going to try and post updates while on the ship. I have only done that once before. Since I write my review will on the ship that should work out. I’ll also try to post some pictures; we will see how that works out.
The taxi arrived in time to pick me up, but because the dispatcher did not provide the special instructions I provided in the e-mail, it took him a while to get to me. Nonetheless in less then ninety minutes I am through security (the lines were very short) and I am wondering what I am going to do during the two hours prior to boarding. Already something strange happened. I paid for the taxi with a credit card. When I tried to add the tip the driver refused. He had already input the amount and could not change it. Next time he’ll know to ask first. So I end up having brunch and then working on this. In about 6 hours I should be in Baltimore.
I choose this flight because it is a non-stop into BWI. When I booked it, it was scheduled to leave at 10am. United pushed the time back two hours which means I’ll arrive in Baltimore at night. Oh well, a non-stop in the winter is still safer than a stop over in Denver or Chicago (I will end up stopping in Chicago on the way home – but I don’t care if I am late getting home.
Well it is a half hour until we begin boarding, so I’ll be back at you in Baltimore.
I made it to Baltimore. Nothing special about the flight except that we flew over two other jets. I would guess that they were two thousand feet below us. I’ve never had that view before (usually I am looking up at the jets).
Well, it is time to just relax I’ll be back at you tomorrow.
February 26, 2012 – Baltimore
Today I went out around 10am to see if I can find an inexpensive replacement watch (the band on my watch broke). Apparently they don’t unroll the sidewalks around here until noon on Sunday. I can’t believe that everyone is wearing jackets. I’m from Southern California and all I had was a polo shirt, and I was quite comfortable. However, inside they have the temperature dialed up too high. My thoughts, what a bunch of wimps.
There are three small malls around the inner harbor that are all related. There is the Light Street Mall, the Pratt Street Mall and The Gallery. Light Street has nothing. Pratt Street has a high end store that looks like that if it has what I want it will be four times the amount I want to spend. Nonetheless it will be about ninety minutes until I can look inside. So I go to The Gallery. Another possibility but all I see are high end watches. So I go upstairs for brunch.
I find an Oriental wok that is open. I’ve always felt that Oriental fast food restaurants should be called run, not wok, but that is just my opinion. At any rate on the way back out I looked in the watch store and this time I found they also have Timex watches. An hour later for $20 bucks I had my replacement watch. Then it was off to the National Aquarium. The first thing I quickly realized is that I was not the only person who decided to visit the aquarium today.
It is a nice aquarium; however, I like the one in Long Beach, California better. For a little extra one can attend a dolphin show and a 4D movie. I’ve seen dolphin shows before, so I skipped that. But the 4D movie experience seemed interesting. It is a 3D movie, including the special glasses, with other effects added, such as squirting water, blowing air and something in the chair that would poke everyone in the back at just the right time. The effects were something else. Well worth the five dollar charge. Add in the fact that I was sitting between two girls and I had a 5D experience in stereo.
On the way back to the hotel stopped off at a very tall World Trade Center. For five bucks I got a ride to the 27th floor with a fantastic view of Baltimore, including the cruise dock which was currently occupied by the Carnival Pride, and hopefully the Enchantment of the Seas tomorrow.
Back at the hotel room I looked out in the direction of the dock. Though I have a great view of the Inner Harbor, I was unable to see the cruise ship dock from my fourth floor room. Speaking of the hotel, how come the more expensive the room, the more they charge for Internet use. I paid thirteen dollars for 24 hours of use. So I’m paying thirteen times what I pay at home for one tenth the speed. And they call this high speed Internet?
After a long day I figured I would go to the in house restaurant. It was even more expensive than I thought it would be. Fifty dollars for something that I pay $35 for back home.
Well, it is late and tomorrow is embarkation day. So, good night for now.
February 27, 2012 – Embarkation Day
This morning I learn that the hotel delivers the bill the same way the ships do. They slipped it under my door early in the morning.
My plan is to get ready to leave around 10am and that should get me out of the hotel by 10:30am and to the dock by 11am. So the next time you hear from me I’ll be on the ship.
Well I made it on board. But first a surprise, the taxi's credit card machine is not working. I made it very clear to him that that was something he should have mentioned before I got in the taxi. I left the hotel a little after 10:30am and I was through security and checked into the priority boarding area by 11:10am. While I’m waiting I read the handout. Its says …
Dear Enchantment of the Seas Guest:
We would like to provide you with important information regarding modifications to your scheduled itinerary. We attempted to reach every guest with phone calls on Friday, February 24, and we apologize if for any reason you did not receive our message.
On Saturday, February 18, while Enchantment of the Seas was docked in Baltimore, Maryland, we became aware of a mechanical issue with one of the ship’s two port propulsion motors. We were able to bring technicians onboard that assisted us in making repairs that restored partial power to the affected motor. However, despite the repairs to the second propulsion motor, the ship is cruising at a reduced rate of speed. It should be noted that this issue has no impact on the maneuverability of the ship or on the safety of our guests and crew.
After reviewing your scheduled itinerary and taking the ship’s reduced speed into account, it is necessary to make some adjustments. We apologize for this development and regret its impact on your scheduled itinerary. We have made every effort to minimize the disruption, and have also extended your stays in several ports of call. Your revised itinerary will be:
Monday – Baltimore, Maryland - Departure 4:00pm (no change)
Tuesday – at sea (no change)
Wednesday – at sea (no change)
Thursday – at sea (no change)
Friday – Tortola, B.V.I. - Arrive 8:00am - Depart 6:00pm (depart one hour later)
Saturday – St. Johns, Antigua - Arrive 8:00am – Depart 1:30am (depart 8 ½ hours later)
Sunday – Philipsburg, St. Maarten – Arrive 8am – Depart 12:30am (depart 7.5 hrs later)
Monday – Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas – Arrive 8am – Depart 6pm (depart 1 hr later)
Tuesday – San Juan, Puerto Rico – Arrive 7:00am – Depart 5:00pm (depart 4 hours later)
Wednesday - at sea (skipping Labadee)
Thursday – at sea (no change)
Friday – at sea (no change)
Saturday – Baltimore, Maryland – arrive 7:00am (no change)
As a gesture of goodwill, and to thank you for your cooperation, Royal Caribbean International will provide your stateroom with an onboard credit of $300. The credit will be applied directly to your onboard account and may be applied to any onboard purchases. Any unused portion of this will be refunded to you. Also, as it is necessary to cancel your call to Labadee, Haiti, guests who purchased shore excursions for Labadee will have those funds automatically refunded to them in the form of credit to their onboard account.
Again, we apologize for these developments and their impact on your scheduled itinerary and your vacation. Our entire onboard team will do its very best to make your sailing as enjoyable as possible.
Signed Captain Gus Andersson, Master, Enchantment of the Seas
Boarding began shortly after 11:30am. The first thing I did was drop my carry-on bags in the room. I made sure the room steward knew I had dropped off the bags; I took my camera and then got out of his way.
The next thing I did was take pictures around the ship. Then I grabbed lunch, a mixture of lunch meat, sliced cheese and pasta. While looking for a table I ran into a couple of people from the roll call, so we chatted a bit. We have agreed to meet in the Viking Lounge after muster.
After lunch I walked the ship some more as the cabins were not ready yet. I found my dining table, it sits four. Rats, I wanted a large table. Oh well. I do remember the last time I had a four top my only other table mate only showed up half the time.
I returned to my cabin shortly after 1:30pm. My bags have not arrived yet. However, luggage did arrive outside my door before 2:00pm. I found a couple of issues with my cabin and went looking for my cabin steward. The two issues are: 1) if I want ice I have to request it and 2) the sink stopper is down and I can’t get it back up. I found out the room steward would return around 3:00pm. So I left the cabin door open and started to unpack. My plan worked to perfection. My room steward saw my open door and can in. Soon I had ice and the sink was unplugged. Life is good.
Just as I finish packing there are seven short blasts on the horn followed by one long blast. Time for the muster drill. We do not take our life jackets. Roll is taken at the muster station. This was the shortest drill I have ever attended. There was a demonstration on how to put on the life jackets and then the captain announced the drill was over. It was so quick I thought the captain was kidding, but that was in fact the end of the muster drill.
So I headed up to the Viking Lounge to meet the rest of the roll call group. 81 signed up and 50 – 60 showed up, including a couple with three young active children. I know the parents though the kids were bothering me, but they were not. At any rate the kids noticed my belly stuck out further than the rest of me. I told them it was because I eat little children. For some reason when I asked, they all denied tasting good. I’m sure they keep their parent on their toes, but I though it was kind of fun.
Soon we left port and soon after than we sailed under a bridge. It sure didn’t look like we were going to make it, but there was likely at least two to three meters clearance. By this time it was after 5:00pm and I went back to my cabin and found what I call the Travel Channel. It is actually the ship information channel. It provided heading, speed and position information. Then I uploaded my photographs, 155 from the prior two days and over 220 today, too the computer for better viewing (fortunately for me, digital pictures are free to develop). Then I started on this.
It is 8:00pm and I head down to dinner. The buffet is in the front of the ship and the restaurant is in the rear of the ship. I am in a rear facing junior suite. I’ll make diamond about half way through the cruise.
I get to the restaurant and I’m the first to arrive at the table. Naturally the waiter wants to know if my friends are coming. I have no idea, so I say I don’t know. After a while no one shows up. My waiter asks again and I explain I’m cruising alone and have no idea who is assigned to the table. I order and as you can imagine I’m the first one finish. I don’t mean the first one at the table; I mean the first one in the section. I finished dessert and I am out of the dining room in less than one hour.
So I come back to finish this, which I have now done. So now it is time to edit the pictures so that I can upload them. We will see if I can make this work.
February 28, 2012 – Day at Sea
I wake up around 6:00am. I check outside and there are no clouds, so I'm not getting dressed for a sunrise picture if there are no clouds to make it look good. We are out in the Atlantic Ocean now moving along at 19 knots according to the Travel Channel which is acting very strange.
First, just as we left Baltimore the Travel Channel showed that we had traveled 144 miles (in less than one hour? I don't think so!). Then it showed a graphic that indicated we were 90% of the way to our first port of call (we will not arrive until next month). I later figured out that this was a useless graphic to show that the blue line shows how far we traveled and the red line shows how far we have to go. Personally I think it would be less confusing if this graphic was eliminated completely. Finally it seems there are three or four different programs all competing for screen time. After each gets its twenty seconds of fame the display suddenly changes, sometimes right before the information I want to see is displayed. And finally, yesterday it kept pointing out that there will be a lifeboat drill at 3:30pm. If it wants to be accurate it should have said the lifeboat drill was held at 3:30pm today (at least after embarkation day that screen does not pop up anymore).
The bathroom could do with a few design changes. There is about an eight second delay from turning on the bathroom light until it actually comes on. Also, there is only one light in the bathroom, which makes the shower a little dark with the curtain closed. I'm in a junior suite, so I have a tub/shower combination. Finally the back of the tub does not end at the wall. Instead there is a two inch flat space that drains onto the bathroom floor. After I’m done in the shower the bathroom floor is flooded, forcing me to dry off in the bedroom area (at least from the ankles down). And finally there is one strange quirk. The knob that controls the water temperature has button that much be pushed in (sort of like the button one must push to move an automatic transmission out of park) to get the hottest water temperatures. That is a safety issue and I understand it. However, there is a similar button on the knob that controls the volume of water. What, did someone drown in the shower because there was too much water coming out of the shower head?
My balcony is half covered and half open, so even if it rains I can still use my balcony. However, just above me is the spa, so no going out in just my underwear this cruise. The weather is very nice. The expected high is 66 degrees and the ocean surface has small waves. I would guess no more than three feet high.
I head over to the Windjammer for breakfast. All of the food serving stations are in one central area. I don't think this is such a good idea as it could create some real crowding. However, I did not experience any problems this morning, so we will have to see how this works out. My cooked to order omelet request was taken as soon as I got in line. I was able to grab a few other things with no problems and then I headed back to my cabin so I could eat breakfast on the balcony.
And now it is time to see if I can upload everything and post.
Well, this morning's attempt to connect to the Internet was a complete bust. It was so slow that I never got connected. So I'll try again this afternoon. I signed up to meet with the loyalty ambassador tomorrow at 5:30pm and went back to the cabin. At noon the captain made his noon time announcement. He has quite a sense of humor. At any rate, we are at 34 degrees 34 minutes north and 74 degrees and 90 minutes west, or about 70 miles from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. We have sailed 313 nautical miles and have about 1109 nautical miles to go. The seas are five to six feet and the water temperature is 72 degrees. So, if we have to travel 1422 nautical miles in 82 hours, then the ship has to average 17 1/3 knots.
Meanwhile I've got a Meet & Mingle coming up on just under half an hour and I have a few things I don't really need, want or plan to use, such as the welcome back gift from Royal Caribbean (I'm sure the kids will enjoy the sweets more than I) and coupons for coffee (I don't drink coffee) or tattoos (again for the kids), sea pets (kids) and the casino (I don't gamble). Nonetheless there are plenty of coupons I can use (discounts on the Internet, laundry, the gift shop and wine).
The M&M was great. Lots of prizes and lots of people (over one hundred in my estimation – I know we were well over one hundred in registered guests). I didn't win any prizes – boo! Sure enough the kids took care of the sweets. And the parents accepted the coffee, tattoo and stuffed pet coupons (apparently this is their first cruise, so they didn't have any coupons). I found some gamblers to take the casino coupons off my hands.
After the meeting we sat and talked a bit, then I decided to grab a late lunch (one of the big advantages of a late dinner is you can eat a late lunch and still have six hours until dinner). I should add that the parents told me that their children are really enjoying Adventure Ocean (the kids program). I would estimate the children’s ages as being between five and seven.
I am kind of surprised at the small selection in the onboard stores. Almost everything I want either they don't have in my size or I already have it.
I took my good camera out to get some pictures, but some clouds showed up and there are very few people on deck or in the swimming pools. I brought three cameras with me, a DSLR a travel sized point & shoot camera that fits in my pocket and an underwater camera. Basically I only use the DSLR on the ship and on photo excursions. Otherwise I use the travel P&S camera unless I'm going in the water, then I use the underwater camera.
So I'm back in the cabin, uploading my photographs and working on this. Then I'll try connecting to the Internet again.
Well I still have not been able to remotely (wireless) connect to the Internet. I'll try again tonight.
All this running around (Saturday, Sunday, Monday and today) is starting to get to me. A cruise, especially days at sea, should be relaxing. There is a production show tonight at 10pm and I am going to try the Internet again after that, so suddenly a nap sounds like a good idea. Besides, tonight we have to set our watches ahead one hour, so an hour and a half nap fits nicely into the schedule.
After my nap it is too early for the captain's party (formal night) so with nothing better to do I decide to look at watches. I'm getting a fairly good sized OBC and while I don't have to spend it, it will not hurt my budget if I do. I have been interested in Citizen Watches for a while and decide to check them out. The only problem is the only ones I am interested in have a date function that is too small to easily be read. The salesman sees me and I tell him I like some of the watches I see, but the date is too small. He shows me an Invicta which seems to be pretty close to what I want. It is not too big (some of the watches I saw could double as an exercise weight). I have not verified my credit yet, but it is at least $175, so I buy the watch. I should be able to verify the amount of my credit tomorrow. One bad thing, while I'm watch shopping the sun sets (oops – I wanted to try for a sunset picture). I could shop for watches any time, there were clouds in the sky, might have been a really nice sunset – I'll never know.
So I dress (nice pants, shoes, shirt and tie, but no jacket) and I get to meet the captain and have my picture taken with him. There are free drinks and toward the end the captain gives his little speech (great sense of humor) and he introduces the senior staff. Then it is time for dinner. On the way out I meet four people from the roll call. I sit and chat a while, but I don't want to be too late for dinner. Still, it was nice to chat a bit with people from the roll call.
It is just me at the table again tonight. The head waiter comes over while I am eating my shrimp cocktail and is concerned that I am all alone, a concern my waiter seems to share. Both of them are going way above and beyond to make sure I'm having a good time. So I end up with a second shrimp cocktail and I have the beef for dinner. Both very good and I’m finished with dinner before 9pm.
So, with a little time to kill I go to the C&A lounge and read the instruction for the watch and then look over the 167 page Worldwide Cruise planner for 2012 – 2013 (my Crown & Anchor appointment is for tomorrow at 5:30pm).
By this time it is 9:40pm and I head over to the Orpheum lounge (the main show lounge) and find a nice seat. The show is called, “Can't Stop the Rock”. It is a tribute to great movie music. The show was okay – I prefer a little more energy.
To my surprise we are told no flash photography and no recording. That used to be restriction at all the shows. However, as cameras have gotten better the new restriction is no photography of any kind (meaning with or without flash). My little travel camera (the one that fits in my pocket) is okay for non-flash photography in dim lighting, but my DSLR (which is back in the cabin) is great at it. I take some pictures and they turn out okay. For the next production show I attend I'm bringing my DSLR.
I try connecting to the Internet again and again I can't. Okay, I head over to guest services (there is no Internet manager) and ask what the problem is. Apparently Royal Caribbean doesn't like Firefox, so I have to use IE, and I'm connected. There are signs that warn that this is not broadband. Well, it is even slower than dial-up. It is painfully slow. I am going nuts. I don't think I will be able to continue to post pictures. Even reduced to just 100K each, the pictures took a long time to upload. With that size picture even dial-up is fast. At least the cut and pasting of the text into each post went fast.
It took 67 minutes to upload 18 small pictures (so I could post the pictures) along with my three cut and paste posts. This little experiment is not going well picture wise. I'll have to consider carefully my choice to post pictures. Now granted some of the issues are related to this being the first time I took this computer on a cruise. I need to download a program (when I get home) to make uploading to Photobucket faster. Also I installed Works but had not registered it yet, and for some reason could while at the hotel (Firefox issues again?). The main problem this causes is I can only use Word 50 times before I register it. So to be safe, while at the hotel, I downloaded Open Office which is compatible with Word (and it is free). It took more than an hour and a half at the hotel, but it allows me to continue with this until I get home and get Works registered.
And now, since we had to move our clocks ahead one hour, it is 2:00am. Good thing tomorrow (well actually today – actually today and tomorrow) is a sea day. Good night!